After having been ashore for three months, from Friday on Gitana XI will start her new life preparing to compete in 2004 ORMA season kicking off with the Grand Prix in La Trinité-sur-Mer) as part of the circuit's two boat team alongside Gitana X.
"With today’s launch of XI and of X in a couple of weeks, Gitana Team’s shore team has just pulled off a pretty amazing feat," says Yann Marilley, Manager of the Gitana Team. "In less than three months, we will have launched two boats which will be perfectly prepared for the 2004 season. In this race against the clock, the 12 members of the team have worked simultaneously on both boats to maintain the strict schedule - a remarkable effort given that the boats were located in two different sites: Gitana X at our base in La Trinité sur Mer and Gitana XI, 100 kilometres away, at the CDK yard in Port-la-Forêt."
The major modifications carried out on both boats mainly concerns the structure and the appendages in the case of Gitana X, and the paintwork, appendages and the mast in the case of Gitana XI.
For 2004, Gitana X has been fitted with a new winged foil section on the central rudder - a system used on Michel Desjoyeaux's Géant, and new curved foils. The companionway leading to the navigation station has also been modified at the request of her new skipper Marc Guillemot, in order to increase the living space inside the central hull and stowage space for the sails.
Meanwhile CDK Technologies carried out the refit of Gitana XI. They specialise in composite work and were the original builder of the van Peteghem-Prevost design when it was known as Belgacom. The boat was purchased in December 2003 by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild.
"Three major tasks have been carried out on Gitana XI after the hull was completely stripped down both inside and out,” explains boat captain Jean Le Houérou Kérisel, who was part of the original Belgacom team, and knows the boat inside out. “The first task involved disassembling, revising and reassembling all of the boat’s equipment once a complete paint job had been done. This included hydraulics, fittings, the engine and electronics. The two other tasks were the new paint job in the Rothschild family colours and work on the structure to incorporate new foils, work which was contracted out to CDK. More than 3,000 hours of labour went into getting the job done involving pure elbow grease in a near permanent cloud of dust and toxic fumes."
Painting and composite work are often incompatible so CDK and the Gitana Team had to do some closely calculated juggling to finish on time. After restepping the mast on Wednesday and Thursday, Gitana XI will be sailing back to her new homeport of La Trinité sur Mer on Thursday.
With a team of 15 work in Port-la-Forêt on Gitana XI, in La Trinité sur Mer, Gitana X was undergoing three major modifications under the attentive eyes of Marc Guillemot and the boat captain, Olivier Wroczynski, who has run the technical and sailing team on board since 2002. The work carried out on Gitana X took almost 2,500 man hours occupying a team of five full time. Wroczynski explains: "We are still in the throes of optimising the boat and we are hoping that the three months we have just spent working on her will bring about important changes in the way she behaves generally. The changes to the companionway which Marc asked for, the fitting of lips to the daggerboard casing, the addition of new curved foils and a winged central rudder should make her more stable and easier to handle."
Gitana X will put back into the water at the end of March/beginning of April and both crews should be in Port-la-Forêt at the same time, where the first joint training session with other multihulls entered in the ORMA circuit 2004 is to be held on 5-8 April.